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Anti-lockdown protesters clash with police in Australia

Coronavirus pandemic has killed over 4.1 million people and infected over 194 million globally. Here are the coronavirus-related developments for July 24:

Protesters clash with police during an anti-lockdown rally in Sydney, Australia, on July 24, 2021. (Reuters)

Saturday, July 24:

Protesters clash with police as thousands march against Australia lockdown

Thousands marched through Australia’s two biggest cities in anti-lockdown protests, sparking violent clashes with police in Sydney.

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Dozens of protesters were arrested after an unauthorised march flouted public health orders in Sydney, while several confrontations with police broke out during the hours-long rally.

Officers were pelted with pot plants and bottles of water as opponents of Sydney’s month-long stay-at-home order took to the streets in numbers.

Thousands also crowded several streets in Melbourne after gathering outside the state parliament in the early afternoon.

Singapore reports 127 new local cases

Singapore’s health ministry reported 127 new locally transmitted cases, slightly lower than the 130 cases reported the previous day.

AstraZeneca searching for vaccines for virus-hit Southeast Asia

Drugmaker AstraZeneca said it was scouring its supply chain to find more doses of its vaccine for Southeast Asia, which is facing its most serious outbreak yet of the virus.

The statement from the Anglo-Swedish company — which produces its vaccine in Thailand for use domestically and in neighbouring countries — comes in the wake of a supply shortage which has sparked heavy criticism of Thai Premier Prayut Chan-O-Cha’s administration.

By the end of July AstraZeneca will have delivered 11.3 million doses for Thailand, according to James Teague, AstraZeneca’s representative in the country.

“We are delivering in the fastest possible timeframe, however, given the gravity of the Delta variant, we are leaving no stone unturned to accelerate supply further still,” Teague said in an “open letter to the people of Thailand”.

“We are also scouring the 20+ supply chains in our worldwide manufacturing network to find additional vaccines for Southeast Asia, including Thailand.”

Protesters against restrictions clash with police in Paris

Anti-vaccination protesters and other demonstrators against virus restrictions in France clashed with the police in central Paris, leading anti-riot forces to use teargas, BTM Television reported.

Beyond Paris, protests were expected to take place in cities such as Marseille, Montpellier, Nantes and Toulouse as French lawmakers are due to vote this weekend on a bill drafted by the government aimed at setting up a health pass and mandatory vaccination for health workers.

French virus infections are spiking and hospitalisations are rising anew.

The government is trying to speed up vaccination to protect vulnerable populations and hospitals and avoid new lockdowns.

Tanzania receives 1st batch of vaccines

Tanzania received its first batch of 1 million Johnson and Johnson vaccines donated by the US government.

Tanzania had been among the few countries in Africa yet to receive vaccines or start inoculating its population against the pandemic, mainly because its former leader claimed prayer had defeated the virus in the country.

The vaccines were received by Foreign Affairs Minister Liberata Mulamula and the US ambassador to Tanzania, Donald Wright, at the Julius Nyerere International Airport in the country’s commercial capital, Dar es Salaam.

China closing county near Myanmar for mass virus testing

Everyone in a county in China’s southwest near Myanmar will be tested following a spike in infections, the government announced.

Businesses, schools and markets in Jiangcheng County in Yunnan province will close Monday and Tuesday while nucleic acid testing is carried out, the government said.

Travel into and out of the county will be prohibited.

Yunnan has reported a spike in infections traced to nearby Myanmar, where a military government that seized power in February is struggling to contain a surge in cases.

Beijing has tightened border controls.

Tunisia reports daily record of 317 deaths

Tunisia has recorded 317 coronavirus-related deaths in the last 24 hours, a daily record since the start of the pandemic, the health ministry said.

The ministry also reported 5,624 new cases, increasing concerns about the country’s ability to fight the pandemic, with intensive care units in hospitals completely full and a lack of oxygen supplies. The vaccination campaign is moving slowly.

The World Health Organization says the daily Covid-19 death tally in Tunisia is now the highest in Africa and in the Arab world.

The total number of cases since the start of the pandemic has reached about 560,000, with more than 18,300 deaths, out of a total population of 11.6 million.

Russia reports record deaths

Russia has reported 23,947 new coronavirus cases and a repeat all-time high in the number of deaths related to the virus, at 799.

Russia has been in the grip of a surge in cases that authorities blame on the more contagious Delta variant, though some officials have suggested in recent days that cases, at least in Moscow, have started to decline.

Total Olympic-related Covid-19 cases now 127

Tokyo organisers say the total of Olympics-related Covid-19 cases in Japan is now 127, with one athlete added to the tally.

German cyclist Simon Geschke’s positive test was announced Friday, one day ahead before the men’s road race. That’s a signature event on the first full day of competition at any Summer Games.

Athletes account for 14 of the 127 cases in Japan since July 1. Among the new positive tests are 14 games contractors who live in Japan.

Dutch team officials said Saturday that rower Finn Florijn tested positive for Covid-19 and is out of the Games. Two other Dutch athletes previously tested positive. Florijn’s positive test won’t show up in the official tally of cases until Sunday.

Malaysia reports record 15,902 cases

Malaysia’s health ministry has reported 15,902 new coronavirus cases, the highest number of daily infections since the beginning of the pandemic.

This brings the cumulative number of cases in the country to 996,393.

Hospital chief: Lebanon can’t handle next Covid wave

Lebanon’s deepening economic crisis has piled pressure on hospitals, leaving them ill-equipped to face any new wave of the coronavirus, a top hospital director has warned.

Already struggling with shortages of medicine and an exodus of staff abroad, the country’s health facilities are now also having to contend with almost round-the-clock power cuts.

“All hospitals … are now less prepared than they were during the wave at the start of the year,” said Firass Abiad, the manager of the largest public hospital in the country battling Covid.

“Medical and nursing staff have left, medicine that was once available has run out” and ever lengthening cuts to the mains power supply have left hospitals under constant threat.

Latin America, Caribbean cases top 40M

The number of Covid-19 cases surpassed 40 million in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Since the first coronavirus infections were recorded last year, the number of cases in the region has reached 40,073,507, according to an AFP count based on official data as of 0200 GMT.

The number of deaths has reached 1,353,335.

Hanoi under lockdown as cases soar

Vietnam has locked down eight million people in Hanoi, the latest attempt to curb a serious coronavirus outbreak that has already forced a third of the country to stay home.

Authorities reported more than 7,000 new infections across the nation on Friday – the third record number of daily infections in a week.

The centre of the normally bustling capital was empty and shops were shuttered as the lockdown came into force, although people could still be seen on the streets in the outskirts of the city.

Brazil sees 108,732 new cases, 1,324 deaths

Brazil has registered 108,732 new cases of coronavirus and 1,324 additional Covid-19 deaths in the last 24 hours, the Health Ministry said.

Mexico reports 16,421 new cases, 328 more deaths

Mexico’s health ministry has reported 16,421 new confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the country and 328 more fatalities, bringing its totals to 2,726,160 infections and 237,954 deaths.

The government has said the real number of cases is likely significantly higher, and separate data published recently suggested the actual death toll could be 60 percent higher than the official count.

Australia’s New South Wales reports 163 local cases

New South Wales, Australia’s most populous state, has reported 163 locally acquired cases of Covid-19, its biggest daily rise, up from 136 a day earlier, in a worsening outbreak that has led to an urgent push to speed up vaccinations.

“Unfortunately the cases continue to rise in New South Wales,” state health minister Brad Hazzard told reporters.

Of the new cases, at least 45 spent time in the community while infectious, state health authorities said. That figure is being closely watched as the state appears poised to extend a lockdown that was due to end on July 30.

Iceland reimposes Covid restrictions after cases surge

Iceland, one of the first nations in the world to lift all Covid restrictions for vaccinated tourists, has announced new curbs following a spate of infections.

At the end of June, Iceland lifted rules around social distancing, mask-wearing, limits on public gatherings and the opening hours of bars and restaurants after introducing virus restrictions in March last year.

Starting from midnight on Sunday until August 13, public gatherings will be restricted to 200, the one-metre social distancing rule will be reimposed and bars and restaurants will have to close at 11:00 pm.

Swimming pools and indoor sports facilities can only operate to 75 percent of capacity and masks will be mandatory indoors.

Although over 85 percent of the population above 16 have received two vaccine doses, Iceland has seen infections spurt with 355 new cases since July 12.

The majority of cases are due to the Delta variant, which was first detected in India.

Iceland will resume restrictions at its borders, requiring a negative PCR test less than 72 hours old for travellers who are fully vaccinated.

Bolivia takes Covid jabs to remote Chipaya town

Uru Chipaya people in Bolivia have received vaccines against Covid-19, as part of government efforts to reach remote and diverse Indigenous communities.

Honorio Chino, an Indigenous representative from the official Movement to Socialism party, traveled to Chipaya to promote the vaccination drive among community members.

Despite aiming to vaccinate 1,200 people in the town, authorities have been able to administer shots to only 77 people so far.

According to government figures, near 3.8 million people in Bolivia have had at least one shot, but that’s just 7 percent of the target population.

Bolivia relies mainly on Chinese-made Sinopharm vaccines, but is also distributing Sputnik V, Janssen, AstraZeneca and Pfizer shots.

The country’s coronavirus death toll stands at 17,576, according to Johns Hopkins University.

US ships 22M vaccine doses to other countries

White House press secretary Jen Psaki has said that the United States has shipped 22 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine to other countries this week.

The total was a weekly record as vaccines went to 23 countries. Psaki says the recipients included Pakistan, Vietnam, Guatemala, Panama, Senegal, Cameroon and Morocco, among other nations.

By this weekend, roughly 80 million doses in total will have shipped from the United States to other countries.

Psaki stressed at Friday’s White House news briefing that the United States is “donating more to the world than any other country.”

Still, there is a global vaccine gap between wealthier nations and poorer ones, a reflection of the economic might of American and European countries as well as the pressure to address the needs of domestic populations.

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